(This is all pending me doing the research and calculations myself. I planned to wait until January to get a calendar year, but I’ve begun to fear the CDC is going to remove/hide/make it even more difficult to find the data. So, maybe in a week or two, I’ll see if I can grab all the needed numbers.)
Well, I’ll try to put it simply as I can, but unfortunately, it’s not simple in and of itself.
All this is based on or said to be based on CDC data; the gross numbers I’ve looked up myself; the details, most important of which are excess deaths by cause of death, I will seek to verify soon.
As of November 25, the CDC listed 240,213 deaths where COVID was “involved.” One has to do a little math to figure this next number out: the CDC also shows 290,213 “excess” deaths up to 11/21 – closest date I could find. So, on the surface, those numbers seem to tie to a reasonable degree: one might expect 240,213 “excess” death if COVID, which was not taken into consideration when the baseline was established, has in fact killed that many people. 290,213 is fairly close, at least.
The claim, as discussed here, is that, by drilling down into the details under causes of death, one finds that 123,681 of the “excess” deaths are people who have died from causes unrelated to COVID. The plausible claim: these are people who died as a result of the stress and disruptions in care resulting from the lockdowns and general panic. It’s difficult to imagine anything else besides the damn virus unique about this year that would kill so many people.
If this is so, then that leaves:
290,213 “excess” deaths
123,681 “excess” deaths where COVID was not involved
166,532 – On the surface, that would seem to be the maximum number of deaths that could have been caused by COVID.
If the excess deaths from non-COVID causes are caused by the panic and lockdown – certainly plausible – then the big question is: how many of the deaths where COVID was determined to be “involved” were, in reality, also caused by the panic and lockdowns? Think about it for a minute: all the already sickly elderly in nursing homes and hospitals are then denied visits from their loved ones, are treated as disease vectors by their care givers, possibly have their care curtailed or delayed, and are otherwise terrified out of their wits – is that going to kill some people? Now, think about other sickly people not in nursing homes or hospitals, who canceled or delayed needed treatments because of fear, became more ill, and died. How many such people had the virus ‘involved’ in their deaths?
Don’t imagine for a moment that those 240,213 deaths are only of people who 1) tested positive for an active infection of COVID; 2) had Sudden Acute Respiratory issues – which are what the ‘SAR’ part of ‘SARS 2’ stands for; and 3) died from those issues or complications thereof. That’s what a normal person would expect it means, but that’s not how it works in practice. (1) In practice, the CDC numbers are far more general than that, and include a huge number of people – the very sickly elderly, such as are in nursing homes – who were soon to die of something anyway regardless of any COVID symptoms. Filling out death certificates is more art than science, given the complex circumstances under which most people die – did the cigarettes kill them. or the obesity, or the cancer? Or the asymptomatic COVID that the tests say they had? Are you, a doctor in the middle of a ‘pandemic,’ going to leave COVID off despite the positive test result because you observed no symptoms? Will your state’s rules even allow you to?
Bottom line: We will never know how many people COVID actually killed, which is inevitably true in the real world for virtually all fatal diseases. A very serious independent audit of all death certificates where COVID was determined to be involved might help eliminate the more egregious cases, but it’s simply not possible to get anything other than a range of estimates. That said, it is certainly plausible that many fewer people were killed by this disease than even the CDC’s not-panic-worthy numbers suggest.
I note here that, according to the WHO’s pre-COVID forecast, about 2.93 million Americans would die this year in the normal course of things. Straight lining from where we are now to the end of the year comes in 50,000 deaths under that projection. Of course, delayed reporting, slop, different forecasting methods, could eat that 50,000 shortfall up easily. Still, it sure doesn’t look like pandemic-level additional deaths anyway you slice it.
- Remember, that 240,213 number is deaths where COVID was “involved”. The process works like this: CDC gets all death certificates from every state; if COVID shows up on a death cert, it is coded as “involved” in the death. The local doctor or coroner who fills out the death certificates follows a large and confusing set of instructions, both from the CDC and state jurisdictions. In very few cases is cause of death straightforward. The elderly, in particular, tend to have a whole constellation of things going wrong with their bodies. Cause of death is a judgement call; many causes and factors can be included. The CDC guidelines are very generous for including COVID; some state rules are even more insistent that COVID be included if it cannot be ruled out.